Diet culture and yoga292: Diet Culture and Yoga with Jessica Grosman & Elyssa Toomey

Diet culture is becoming more and more pervasive in the yoga world. It can show up in hidden and deliberate ways, and it is causing harm to our yoga students and it can be dangerous. Elyssa Toomey and Jessica Grosman are experts at the intersection of yoga, food, diet, and nutrition and have insights to share on the topic.

Elyssa Toomey is a Certified Eating Disorders Specialist and Supervisor (CEDS-S), Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT). She is an experienced anti-diet, Health at Every Size informed, weight-inclusive eating disorder dietitian who is passionate about helping people develop a peaceful relationship with food and their body. Elyssa specializes in helping clients heal from chronic dieting, disordered eating and eating disorders through 1:1 consultations and ongoing group and individual clinical supervision and case consultation.

Jessica Grosman is an Anti-Diet Registered Dietitian, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Weight-Inclusive Health Practitioner and Yoga Teacher. Her mission is to help people get comfortable and connected with their own body through food and yoga. Jessica believes that all people have the right to health, regardless of size or medical condition. As both a Registered Dietitian and a Yoga Teacher, Jessica is qualified to address and educate on the topic of diet culture in yoga.

Elyssa and Jessica share their take on how yoga teachers may be contributing to diet/wellness culture in yoga spaces, how we can identify harmful behaviors, and what we can do about it. They also give tips on how to create safer spaces for all bodies and to use yoga as a way to foster connection between body, mind, and breath. Elyssa and Jessica offer guidance on the role of yoga teachers in disrupting diet culture and when it is appropriate for us to refer our students for professional help.

Key Takeaways:

[2:09] Shannon introduces her guests for this episode – Jessica Grosman & Elyssa Toomey.

[6:27] What do Jessica and Elyssa do and who do they do it for?

[8:57] Where does diet culture show up in the yoga world and yoga spaces?

“Diet culture is a piece of this overall wellness culture… It is so pervasive, it’s in everything that we do.” ~ Elyssa Toomey

[12:35] Jessica shares some examples of how yoga teachers may be perpetuating diet culture.

“As teachers, there is this level of respect that our students have for us or they’re looking to us for direction, not only the physical direction of where to place your feet on the mat, but also sort of that bigger life direction.” ~ Elyssa Toomey 

[16:10] Jessica and Elyssa encourage us to question what we mean when we say “health” or “healthy”.

[18:53] How can yoga teachers who are not trained to speak about food, diet, or nutrition handle questions from students that buy into diet culture?

“The scope of practice for a yoga teacher does not include anything related to food, diet or nutrition.” ~ Jessica Grossman 

[21:09] Jessica highlights the fact that anybody and everybody can practice yoga and yoga goes beyond asana.

[22:05] Elyssa and Jessica are putting together a workshop about yoga and diet culture – Blurred Lines: The Harmful Intersection of Diet Culture & Yoga.

[25:21] We are all bombarded with diet culture messages from a very young age, so it can be difficult for us to break away from these thoughts.

“Our bodies are to be lived in and not looked at.” ~ Elyssa Toomey 

[27:53] What can we do when we see or encounter harmful messages in yoga spaces or online?

[31:14] Social media can be dangerous in terms of the negative influence it can have but it is also possible to uplift and highlight the work of people doing beneficial things,

[33:27] Jessica and Elyssa share their thoughts around how we can create safer spaces for all students.

[36:44] We also need to pay attention to the language that we use when cueing poses or variations and modifications.

[38:34] Shannon pops in to share a quick teaching tip.

[41:54] What should yoga teachers do if they have students who may need to seek professional help?

[48:17] Jessica and Elyssa leave us with some final thoughts around diet culture in yoga.

“Our worth as individuals has nothing to do with our weight and has nothing to do with our size.” ~ Elyssa Toomey 

[51:21] Find out more about Jessica and Elyssa on their websites or connect with them on social media.

[53:53] Shannon shares her key takeaways from this interview with Jessica and Elyssa.

“Anybody can have an opinion about any subject but opinions are not facts and opinions are not knowledge.” ~ Jessica Grossman 


Gratitude to our Sponsor, OfferingTree.

OfferingTree all-in-one software